Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mending A Smashed Toe and A Broken Heart

Whenever anyone is sick or hurt it takes me back
to that place that only Bradley has taken me.
Fear for life.
Precious breath which is given by God.
 Breath that can be taken from us at anytime.
Because he is in control and we are not.
I think this is a lesson I am going to revisit many times in my life.
We have received so many condolence cards and letters.
I've been surprised how many have come from doctors and therapists.
They really did and do care.
I just hated everything about the medical side of his life.
It's very hard for me to accept medical care, I guess.
I don't gravitate naturally to it.
I guess that is why I'm more comfortable birthing my babies at the foot of my bed.
But I've always fought against my natural preference, if I knew it would help my children.
Charlotte smashed her toe this week.
She squished it when a heavy barstool fell on our stone floor.
The impact popped a hole in the end of her toe,
spewing cartilage onto the stone.
It turned black instantly.
I started balling when I saw it.
I couldn't handle another one of my babies suffering.
I held her and rocked back and forth.
Crying and aching for both Charlotte and Bradley.
Then I realized she should probably go into the ER.
See if it needed stiches or had a broken bone or something.
We went to St. Rose,
 because Sunrise is the best,
but I couldn't bear the thought of going there.
They took an x-ray that was normal.
They gave us a Band-Aid and Neosporin.
And sent us home.
Told us to come back if it looked infected or if she ran a fever.

Ironically, she did get a fever the very next day.
And by 5pm she was throwing up.
I knew I had to take her to the best hospital if she had a possible infection.
So Tom and I and all the kids headed down to Sunrise.
The ride was so nostalgic and heartbreaking.
A weird mix of sad memories about my Bradley.
Memories of fear mixed with everything we have been through together.
We walked into the familiar waiting room
and every single nurse who has ever helped Bradley was working in triage that night.
We filled out paperwork for Charlotte and because she had a
fever associated with a wound they let her back very quickly.
When we got into triage they looked at all of my kids and said with curiosity in their eyes,
"Are these all the kids you have?'
I burst into tears and told them I was Bradley Brinkerhoff's mommy,
and that he had passed 2 weeks ago.
That he had been referred to hospice care by Dr. Nakamaura, 9 months ago.
And he had died of respiratory failure, like every doctor had said he would.
All of the nurses got very sad looks in their eyes and told me they were sorry.
It was obvious they didn't want me to cry.
They took us back to a familiar room.
They repeated the x-ray which was normal, again.
They said the site didn't look infected.
They said that it was too soon for that degree of infection to have developed.
They said it was probably a coincidence she had a fever and was throwing up.
And they let us go home.
And I was relieved nothing was wrong
 and they didn't have to poke another one of my babies.
When I got home I realized Heavenly Father
had given me the opportunity to find closure with that part of Bradley's life. 
He let me tell the nurses who had helped us so much in the Sunrise ER.
I had wondered, when we went on hospice 9 months ago,
if they would even notice when we stopped coming in. 
While it was painful to tell them, I'm glad they remembered him.
That they remembered him on their own and asked me.
It made me feel like he really
did effect hearts of the people in the hospital.
Grateful for that opportunity to tell them myself of his passing.
Grateful Charlotte is okay too.
I feel very taken care of.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Butterfly

Tender feelings today, as I walk around my house and think about my son.
He was my everything for the past two years.
And now he's gone.
And my house is so quiet.
Pictures and flowers decorate my house from the funeral.
I wish I could hold and kiss him.
I wish I could smell his sweet little head one more time.

But there is a sweetness, knowing he is finally safe.
Knowing no one can hurt him.
No one will poke him with needles ever again.
No more medicines or seizures.
No more annoying nasal cannula.
No more gasping for air.
No more being tied to cords and machines.
That hard part of his existence is over.
And I know he is not gone.
He is still here.
He has just changed.
Like a butterfly, he has morphed into something more.
He is free from that horrible cocoon that held him so tight.
But pain fills my soul when I think about cuddling him.
It was too short.
I hate degenerative brain diseases.
On the morning of his funeral my Aunt Edris found me and presented me with a tiny box.
A box that had once belonged to my Grandma.
And she handed the box to me and told me, Grandma had asked her to give me this.
 Grandma had told her to give the black butterfly pin to Mary Gay,
17 years ago, before her death.
And Edris had misplaced the pin, but found it again one day, recently.
And she remembered when she saw it that it was intended for me.
And I opened the box and saw the black butterfly pin.
I had seen my Grandma Wanda wear it many times.
And now it was mine.
Seventeen years after her death, Grandma Wanda sent me the message
that Bradley was flying free from the pains of this world.
And that Bradley is not gone.
He has just changed.
Bradley the boy who changed everything about us,
is now free to change himself.
And he is now honorably released from his mission on earth.
I'm very grateful Grandma sent me that message on the morning of his funeral.
Proud of Bradley and his completed mission.
He is my butterfly. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bradley Herrick Brinkerhoff, 7/20/11 - 9/7/13



Bradley, we love you very much!
I know we can live together forever!
You have taught me so much!
I <3 U Bradley
Love, Maddy, your Sister


I love you Bradley.
You have taught us a lot of things about our life.
I love you Bradley.
Love, Jacob

I love you, Bradley.
Love, Charlotte

Bradley Herrick Brinkerhoff, returned to his heavenly home
in the early morning hours of September 7, 2013. 
He passed in our home, surrounded by his loving parents, brother and sisters. 
He leaves behind his Mother and Father, Mary and Tom,
 beautiful Sister Madeleine, brave brother Jacob and loving Sister Charlotte.
 He is also survived by his grandparents Gay and Steven Sluder,
and Lori and Kent Brinkerhoff.

His Aunts; Jennifer Rubio, Laura Bunnell, Cynthia Sluder, Beth Sluder, Natalie Tappan, Tamara Hansen, Shalee Brinkerhoff and Kristina Brinkerhoff.

 His Uncles; Jose Rubio, Zwieba Bunnell, Steven Sluder II, John Sluder, Trampus Tappan, Joseph Hansen, and Paul Brinkerhoff.

 And his twenty-nine first cousins;
Emily, Jose Jr, Isabelle, Wendy, Juan-Steven,
Samuel, Sarah, Adam, Eliza, Benjamin, Alice, Naomi,
Megan, Haley, Brooke, Ryan,
Addyson, Kate, Luke, Jack,
Megan, Vesta,
Heidi, Kent, Benjamin, Samantha,
Aiden, Evan and Ashton.
In his short life,
he did not receive the opportunity to walk, talk, or see
but his spirit affected the lives of all he knew. 
 He suffered from many health problems but did not complain. 
His vision was not limited to his “earth stuff”,
 he could see the greater purpose of life,
to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize
his divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.

We appreciate you letting us serve you,
by humbly submitting your amazing spirit to a broken body. 
We learned from you, loved you,
played with you, served you and walked for you. 
We all love you and are grateful
for your enduring influence in our life. 
Until we are together again,
enjoy walking with our Savior in Paradise.
By Tom Brinkerhoff

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Day He Returned to Heaven

I have to record this.
It's so fresh and beautiful, I don't ever want to forget it.
I don't ever want to forget him.
At first we thought it was a cold.
A sickness in his chest.
Coughing. Mucus.
I think part of it was an infection.
An infection that went quickly through his lungs.
But I know a lot of it was his brain too.
That tiny brain of his that would never work right!
He wasn't breathing on Friday morning at 5am when I woke up.
Tom took his saturation level and saw he was in the 60s.
Tom turned up the oxygen, higher then normal.
I got home from a beautiful sunrise hike.
And I checked him.
He did need even-more oxygen.
I texted Bradley's nurse.
The nurse told me to put Bradley on an oxygen tank so I could turn the oxygen level even higher.
All through the day Bradley struggled to breath.
His neck would sink in and his nostrils would flair when he'd gasp for air.
And his nurse came out.
And we talked about going to the hospital.
We talked about antibiotics for the suspected infection.
He ordered some medications and more oxygen tanks for us to stay home.
And he left. And I stayed by Bradley's side.
I knew he was struggling.
But he has struggled a lot, and I didn't know how soon it'd be.
And Tom got home from work,
and I laid on the bed next to Bradley with all of our kids around us.
And Tom said he was grey when he saw Bradley.
And we checked his saturation.
 And he was at a 30.
Healthy people are at 100.
And we realized the tank had run out.
And we switched it out.
And we realized how much he was dependent on the oxygen then.
He struggled some more to breath.
And Jacob came home from a play date with his best friend.
And Bradley knew that we were all home.
And Bradley squeaked between the gasps.
Sounded like he was trying to talk to us.
And he was given a blessing.
And Tom knew it was getting close.
And he gasped and we turned up the oxygen even higher.
And he wore his pulse ox consistently, for the first time in his life, in my home.
I have never liked his medical equipment.
I loathe it.
And I let him wear the probe continuously only
so I would know when he was passing.
And he dropped to 25, even with the oxygen, and I knew it would be soon.
And Tom woke the big kids up.
And I told them Bradley was passing.
And they cried and held his hands and feet.
And I stroked his head.
And I called my Mom and she facetimed with Bradley as he faded.
And as he took his last few breaths, he closed his eyes and went to sleep.
And suddenly his heart rate was at a zero too.
And he was gone.
And the grief flowed freely from us all.
The kids called his name and asked him not to go.
But he was gone.
I picked him up.
He was a rag doll in my arms.
And he was gone.
At exactly 1:30am he had returned to his heavenly home.
And I was left his earthly body.
And I took the body to his room.
Jacob wanted him to stay with him one more night.
And I changed the sheets and his socks and wrapped a blanket all around him.
And I laid him down on his bed.
 And he and Jacob spent their last earthly night next to each other.
And they picked his body up this morning.
And the zipper of the body bag was so loud.
My tiny son is gone for now.
But I will see him again.
I will see that strong young man, I've seen before in my dreams.
The attractive young man who looks like Tom.
The one with the handsome smile.
And I am grateful for the tender mercies of his passing.
He died in my bed, like I had wanted.
 Only a few feet from where he was born.
We were all around him.
And he was and is resting in peace.